On Fenn’s Response to the Question From “Forrest Burke” Regarding Punctuation in the Poem

I read, with some interest, Fenn’s response to the question posed by the character who signed his name “Forrest Burke,” on Jenny Kile’s Mysterious Writings blog on August 28, 2018, represented her in text:

Mr. Fenn,

There has been a lot of talk about the punctuation in your poem and how it might help someone who is searching for your treasure. That’s a bunch of hooee, isn’t it!?

Forrest Burke

Dear Mr. Burke,

Sometimes punctuation can be confusing and that’s why I’m very careful when I use it. To illustrate: I just received an email from a man who has stage 4 liver cancer. He said he knows where the treasure is and tomorrow he is going to Colorado to get it. “Will you please wish me good luck,”?, he said. I replied, “No, you seem so positive and I don’t want to give you an advantage over other searchers, so I won’t say, good luck to you. f

And, to be safe, here in image:

I was not nearly as surprise by either the question or Fenn’s response as I was by the number of composition and punctuation errors I find in what Fenn wrote.

Here how I would have written it:

Dear Mr. Burke,

Punctuation can sometimes be confusing. That’s why I’m very careful when I use it. For example, I just received an email from a man who claims he has stage 4 liver cancer. He wrote that he knows where I hid the treasure, and he’s leaving tomorrow to recover it. “Will you please wish me good luck?” he wrote. I replied, “No, you seem so positive, and I don’t want to give you an advantage over other searchers, so I won’t write, ‘Good luck to you.'” f

In contradiction to Fenn writing that he’s very careful when he uses punctuation, in his paragraph above he, effectively, throws punctuation out the proverbial window.

Which, to me, is more curious than his response.

Intentional or not? That is the fist question. “Why?” is the second.


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2 thoughts on “On Fenn’s Response to the Question From “Forrest Burke” Regarding Punctuation in the Poem

  1. I feel he did both. First, he intentionally and prolifically misused punctuation just because he is after all Forrest Fenn. He is the self-proclaimed “non-compliant and non-academic” in the room. Secondly, in the last part of his comment, and with a great understanding of the proper use of punctuation, he demonstrated how punctuation can be used to say exactly what he said he didn’t say. For the record I was a horrible student (too much fishing) so I could really be off on this one.

    • Jeff…we agree. We do think it was intentional, a designed to make a point.

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